Aswan and Luxor, both are the important tourist destinations in Egypt because of its legendary temples, tombs and museums. Aswan is famous for Philae Temple, St. Catherine’s Monastery, Nubian Museum, Unfinished Obelisk etc. This city also serves as the base for the cost-effective travel to the amazing temples at Abu Simbel. Luxor is an another most sought destination with temples like Karnak ,Luxor, Medinat Habu and places like Valley of The Kings and Tombs of the Nobles.
Both cities are part of the Upper Egypt Area and situated at the distance of 220 kms from each other. Almost all tourists try to cover both the places during their trip to Egypt. There are lot of queries on the web regarding the availability of various options to travel between these two cities. But this is the simplest part of the story. There are three other magnificent temples lie along the road between these two cities and they are Kom Ombo Temple, Edfu Temple and Esna Temple.
Getting from Aswan to Luxor or vice-versa is quite easy and that is possible in a cost-effective manner. But most people are puzzled about the possibilities of economical travel between these two cities by covering other three mentioned temples, especially Kom Ombo and Edfu Temple among them. This post aims to describe all those possibilities to ease out that puzzle as I travelled recently from Aswan to Luxor via Kom Ombo Temple and Edfu Temple.
To travel from Aswan to Luxor or vice-versa, we can use various mode of transport like flights, cruises, boats, buses, trains, taxis etc. Check out below to get a detailed idea of all available options:
By Air: There is no direct flight between Aswan and Luxor. Both places are having an International Airport, but all flights connecting these two cities are flying via Cairo only. So, minimum flying time between these two cities with a stop over at Cairo is approximately 4 hrs and airfare is generally more than 700 EGP for this trip. Moreover, There is no chance to visit Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples with this option.
By Train: Air Conditioned Sleeper as well as Ordinary Express trains run between Aswan and Luxor on a very good railway track. If you want to go directly to Luxor from Aswan or vice-versa, this is the best economical way. There are at least seven Express trains between these cities throughout the day. You can expect some more passenger trains also. You can check trains time table on Egyptian Railway Website.
Since, it is only 3-4 hours journey, there is no requirement of prior reservation. Ordinary Trains can take more time (5-6 hrs), but you can not reserve seats in those trains. There are reports of foreigners not allowed on the Ordinary Trains between Aswan and Luxor, but once you board the train, nobody will trouble you. However, If you will try to buy ticket from the ticket window at railway station, they may deny you a ticket on ordinary train. It is always better to board an ordinary train first and then buy tickets from Ticket Collector in the train. Train Fares vary from 10 EGP (Ordinary) to 45 EGP (Sleeper Air-Conditioned) depending on the class and type of the train.
Both Kom Ombo and Edfu has a railway station. Kom Ombo Railway Station is 2-2.5 kms away from the temple, adjacent to Aswan-Luxor Main Highway. You can walk from the station to the temple without any problem. However, tuk-tuks are available at the junction of Main Highway and Link Road going to Kom Ombo Temple. But, you have to reserve them and bargain hard for the price as the temple is only 2 kms away from there.
Edfu Railway Station is nearly 4 kms away from the temple on Aswan-Luxor Main Highway. Railway station is at the East Bank of Nile River, while Temple is at the West Bank. After leaving the train, walk in south direction for approximately one kilometer towards a bridge over the Nile . After crossing the bridge, you will see many horse carriages (Calèche) on the other side. Those horse-carriages will take you to the temple entrance, which is about 2.5 kms away from that place. If you want to walk, you can also walk without any trouble.
Esna Railway Station is nearly 4.5-5 kms away from the Temple of Khnum (also known as Esna Temple) at the East Bank of Nile River. After leaving train, walk towards south for 300 meters to the bridge, cross Nile river and on the West Bank, again arrange a transport or walk up to the temple.
Please note that all express trains may not have a stop at Kom Ombo, Edfu or Esna. Always check before boarding the train. Its better to board a passenger or Ordinary Train.
Also, I did not observe any sign of accompanied police or convoy to visit these temples from the railway station. You can simply walk and arrange a transport. I did not see any convoy type of thing or any tourist with Police security during the entire journey from Aswan to Luxor.
Visiting Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples by a train can be a very economical option, but the problem is to complete this journey in single day. These Temples generally open at 08:00 AM and close at 05:00 PM. Kom Ombo is nearly one hour away from Aswan and you will require another 2-3 hours to visit the temple and Crocodile Museum. Coming back to Railway Station, waiting for another train and Edfu is nearly 1.30 hours away from Kom Ombo. Again, you will require at least 2-3 hours at Edfu Temple. From there, Luxor is about 2 hours away. So, planning the whole journey in single day can be difficult. I don’t think there is any night accommodation in Kom Ombo, but Edfu town seems large enough to have some night accommodations, however I am not sure.
By Nile Cruises: The most luxurious and the costliest option to travel between two cities. There are plenty of Nile Cruise Operators in both the cities. These cruise prices vary from 300 USD to 600 USD including temple entry tickets depending on the cabin and tourist season and take 4-5 days to complete this journey with a stop at Kom Ombo Temple, Edfu Temple and Esna Temple.
These Cruises stop just in front of the Kom Ombo Temple, while they stop about 2.5 kms away from the Edfu Temple, near the Nile Bridge. From there, the cruise operators arrange horse-carriages for the visitors. For Esna Temple, they stop near the temple (about 300 meters away).
By Felucca: Cheaper version of Nile Cruises. There are many Felucca Sailor at the bank of Nile in both cities Aswan and Luxor. It is always better to negotiate directly with these boat captains at river bank to get a good price. Night will be spend either on Feluccas any Island or nearby coastal villages. All accommodation and food will be arranged by the boat captain, so always consider all these factors before booking a felucca. Allow at least 5-6 days to these feluccas for a nice trip.
By Public Buses: Many public buses ply between Aswan and Luxor. Foreigners are normally not suppose to take these buses, but once you board nobody really care. These buses are safe and very cheap. There is no convoy type of thing on Aswan-Luxor route now.
A direct bus between Aswan to Luxor will cost you about 30 EGP and journey time is about 4 hours. Highway is in good condition except a bad patch of about 20 kms after Kom Ombo Temple.
None of these three temples are situated at the main highway, however all temples are connected to the main highway by a link road. Highway is running along the East Bank of Nile in all three towns, but only Kom Ombo Temple is on the East Bank of Nile, others Edfu and Esna Temples are situated at the West Bank of Nile, approachable by a wide well-paved concrete bridge over the Nile. Railway Stations in Kom Ombo, Edfu and Esna are generally close to the main highway between Aswan and Luxor, near the link road going to the temples. So, just follow the instructions written under Train Section to reach those temples after leaving the buses.
By Private Taxis: Private Taxis are the best option to travel between these two cities via these temple. If you try with a tour operator, they may charge you 600 EGP onwards, but try to get a taxi by own on a night before your departure and you may get that in 400 EGP. All three temples are approachable by a taxi ride and taxi drivers generally allow at least 2 hours to visit each temple.
By Shared Taxis: This is what I used in my journey. There is an interesting story behind getting this shared taxi. I met a lady, Pollina, during my group tour to Abu Simbel from Aswan. She also planned a visit to Luxor via Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples next day from Aswan. However, she already arranged a taxi in 400 EGP for the trip. I asked her if I could join and share the cost of this trip. She agreed and we both hoped to share 200 EGP each. However, I was also in touch with my hotel to get any group tour to Luxor, just like Abu Simbel to reduce the journey cost, so I did not confirm my trip with Pollina.
When I returned back to my hotel in the evening, they confirmed my shared tour to Luxor via Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples in 100 EGP only ! I was happy with the price, so I asked them to book that tour for me. I called Pollina and informed her that I would not be able to join her, as I got the group tour. In the night, I received a message from her that she lost her credit card and now due to shortage of cash, she would also join the shared tour.
Next Morning, at 7 AM, I was waiting for my group tour for Luxor. A driver came and when I went with him I saw a big car waiting for me. To my surprise, Pollina was also inside that car. We thought that car would take us to the bus, where other people would join us. But, the driver informed us that we would go to Luxor by that car and only we two were the part of that group tour. So, this way , where we both were supposed to spend 200 EGP each because of our own efforts, we spent only 100 EGP due to the group tour booking by our hotel.
The car driver was a very nice guy and he allowed us the sufficient time at both Kom Ombo as well as Edfu Temples. We did not go to Esna Temple. We reached Luxor by 3.15 PM and driver dropped us to our hotels in Luxor one by one.
After reviewing all these options, I can only say that whatever is your choice of transport, once check with your hotel also, especially in Aswan if they can arrange a good cost- effective tour for you. You can find those tour in Luxor also, but in Aswan their network is very organised and there are high chances of getting a shared tour. In Luxor, hotels do not have such type of networks and they mainly rely on other travellers in the same hotel to organize a shared tour.